Photo of Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Daughter, Leila, Went Viral After Senate Hearing

During this week’s confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court, Sarahbeth Maney has been in the room where it’s all happening. As a photography fellow for the New York Times, 26-year-old Maney, just a couple of years out of college, was covering the confirmation hearings when she captured a now-viral photo of Judge Jackson’s daughter, Leila, gazing at her mother with admiration and pride in her eyes. Sarahbeth posted the photo to Twitter on Wednesday, with this caption: “Being the first often means you have to be the best — and the bravest.” Teen Vogue caught up with Maney to talk about what made the photo so touching and what it meant for Maney to capture the moment as a young Black woman herself.

Editor’s note: This conversation has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

Teen Vogue: Were you surprised by how viral the photo went?

Sarahbeth Maney: It was unexpected, but if I were to choose something to go viral, I’m very proud it was this photo. I woke up with thousands of messages and reshares from very public figures like Martin Luther King Jr.’s youngest daughter, [Bernice King], and [lawyer and niece of Vice President Kamala Harris], Meena Harris.

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I was up all night crying looking at the comments. It meant so much to see that people felt what I felt when I made the picture. And that’s what I try to do, I try to be true to myself.

TV: What was it like being in the room during confirmation hearings for the first Black woman SCOTUS nominee?

SB: Just hearing you ask me that question is very surreal. My coverage is informed by my perspective and who I am. In terms of representation, it was significant for me to be in that room and look around and see other Black photographers there with me. That was the first time in my career where I worked alongside more than one other Black photographer. On Tuesday, there were five of us. It was an honor, because I think it’s important for us to lend our perspectives and be able to provide a sort of cultural nuance that has not historically been documented by us.

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